The mourners began their dismal procession, and the sound of their solemn dirge rose into the calm blue depths of heaven. Heilmann walked first, bearing on high a crucifix, and the bereaved Bertalda followed leaning on her aged father. Suddenly, amid the crowd of mourners who composed the widow’s train, appeared a snow-white figure, deeply veiled, with hands uplifted in an attitude of intense grief. Those that stood near her felt a shudder creep over them; they shrank back, and thus increased the alarm of those whom the stranger next approached, so that confusion gradually spread itself through the whole train. Here and there was to be found a soldier bold enough to address the figure, and attempt to drive her away; but she always eluded their grasp, and the next moment reappeared among the rest, moving along with slow and solemn step. At length, when the attendants had all fallen back, she found herself close behind Bertalda, and now slackened her pace to the very slowest measure, so that the widow was not aware of her presence. No one disturbed her again, while she meekly and reverently glided on behind her.
So they advanced till they reached the churchyard, when the whole procession formed a circle round the open grave. Bertalda then discovered the unbidden guest, and half-angry, half-frightened, she forbade her to come near the Knight’s resting-place. But the veiled form gently shook her head, and extended her hands in humble entreaty; this gesture reminded Bertalda of poor Undine, when she gave her the coral necklace on the Danube, and she could not but weep. Father Heilmann enjoined silence; for they had begun to heap earth over the grave, and were about to offer up solemn prayers around it. Bertalda knelt down in silence, and all her followers did the same. When they rose, lo, the white form had vanished! and on the spot where she had knelt, a bright silvery brook now gushed out of the turf, and flowed round the Knight’s tomb, till it had almost wholly encircled it; then it ran further on, and emptied itself into a shady pool which bounded one side of the churchyard. From that time forth, the villagers are said to have shown travellers this clear spring, and they still believe it to be the poor forsaken Undine, who continues thus to twine her arms round her beloved lord.
THE STORY OF RUTH
It came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab—he and his wife and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.
And Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other was Ruth. And they dwelled there about ten years.